The empty wastelands that were once the lush woodlands of Poland stretched out as far as the eye could see. Blackened tree stumps threw morbid shadows on smoldering ashes that rose high in the air with every soft breeze of wind that caressed the scarred land. A lonely figure walked alone over the devastated landscape, closing her eyes as she passed the remains of a family of four lying in a shallow pit, twisted limbs and distorted faces, the flesh pulled away over their teeth and the eye-sockets picked empty by scavenging birds. She took out the coarsely drawn map and studied her surroundings, but recognized very little. The road that once connected the city of Krakow with the rest of the world was hardly still there, the asphalt broken up so badly that it had become inaccessible for any sort of vehicle. She climbed over the huge chunks of ruble, and gazed at the east, where the early morning light simmered at the horizon and revealed the ancient city, now reduced to pitiful ruins. When she ventured closer, she noticed the high voltage chain link fences placed around the city borders. Watchtowers were stationed in between, and were heavily guarded.
Martha hid behind the barren branches of a fallen tree. The entire place reminded her of a German concentration camp. In fact, the gateways from the Nazi camps in the nearby regions had been dismantled on the Master's orders and hauled to Krakow to be used as the doorways to the city, to cruelly mock the last humans that had survived the complete destruction of the European mainland. The chilling message of "Arbeit macht frei" cast in iron above the old gates made Martha shudder.
She waited for the signal. It came in the disguise of a shrill birdcall, coming from the other side of the fence. She stalked into the direction of the sound, and found hidden behind a wood of dead scrubs, a hole in the densely knitted chains, which was just big enough for a human being to crawl through. Behind the fence, a tall, board shouldered man with a gaunt face and hollow eyes beckoned her. He took off his ragged coat and draped the fabric around the opening, making it safe for her to pass. Martha didn't hesitate and wriggled herself through. She took the man's hand and was pulled up at the other side.
Martha Jones?" He spoke in broken English with a heavy north European accent.
Martha nodded. "Yes, and you must be mister Csovkas. Someone from the resistance in the labor camp in Muchen informed me about you."
"Yes, yes, I'm so glad you made it." He smiled, shaking her hand enthusiastically. Martha realized that he must have been a handsome man before all this had happened, but now the grief and the harsh way of life that he was forced to endure as a slave laborer had left its marks him. He looked like an old man of 50. "Call me Michael." He said. "I will bring you to the slave quarters in block C. You will be safe there. It's actually the safest place in the camp since yesterday."
"What happened yesterday?" Martha asked, but dreaded the answer.
"They cleared it." Michael spoke, hiding his emotions. "Lined up everyone and send them away to the experimentation camp." He rose up and stalked into the direction of the barracks. "Follow me closely. Don't stall or they will catch you in the searchlights."
Martha did as she was told. She could read from Michael's face that the events of the previous day had shocked him. Perhaps there were friends and relatives in block C who had been sent away. She had heard about these experimentation camps. They were designed to test the new destructive weapons concocted by the Master's depraved mind on his human victims. Nobody had ever survived those camps to tell the tale.
Martha gently put a hand on the man's shoulder.
"I don't need to be safe. I came to meet your people. Bring me to another barrack that is occupied. I need to speak to each and every one of them. It's important."
Michael first looked at her in amazement, but then, realizing that she meant every word she said, nodded understandingly. "That way to block A and B. We must hurry."
The slave-quarters were nothing more than wooden huts, built on top of the ruins of the old stone buildings, slapped together in short time, using the remaining trees that were left standing after the great fire. They were damp and cold in the winter, and many of the people who were forced to live in them were ill, suffering of diseases that were supposed to be extinct by grace of modern medicine and hygiene, but roamed free once more now that both were absent in these bad living conditions. Whole families lived cramped up together, sleeping on bunk-beds that were little more than wooden shelves. The stench of sweat, urine and human waste was overwhelming. Martha ignored her senses, and sat down on one of the beds. A crowd of ragged men and women gathered around her, all in awe of her reputation, and faint hope that had long since faded glinted once more in their hollow eyes.
Donna took out some food from her backpack and handed it over to a thin woman who had almost wasted away into nothing. She was starving herself, but couldn't stand it to see these people suffer like this. The thin woman smiled thankfully at her, and broke up the bread in tiny pieces. She handed a piece to Martha, and shared the rest of it with the men and women who needed it the most. This small act of kindness warmed Martha's heart. The Master may have enslaved them, but he had not succeeded to crush their spirits completely. A trace of humanity, the essence what made them human, was still left inside their souls.
There was still reason for her to believe that she didn't wander the earth in vain.
She waited till every one of them had found a place to sit. Then she started, telling them her story, the reason why she risked her life to wander over the earth on her own. She told them exactly what she had told countless of them before.
She told them about the Doctor, and how one day he would return to save them all.
She had almost finished the story when one of the slave workers rushed in and pushed through the crowd.
"They're coming! The guards, they know that something is wrong!"
The woman who had taken the bread from Martha took the blankets from the beds and threw it over her as a cover.
"Hide her!" She urged. They crowed around her. The doors flung open and the guards entered with their guns aimed at the frightened slaves.
"Where is the girl?" The commander asked.
"What girl, sir?" The woman replied. "We were preparing to go to bed. Nobody came in since we were brought back from the coal mines."
The commander walked up to her and knocked her down with the back of his riffle. He gestured to his men, and they dragged in Csoskav. He was severely beaten and barely alive. The guards threw him on the floor, a few meters away from Martha. The commander stepped forward and cocked the safety-pin from his revolver. "Do you think I'm that easily deceived? Hmm? We saw this piece of shit, crawl up to the gate to collect her! Do you know what our Lord and Master would do if he found out? Hmmm? Martha Jones is a menace to our Master's safety and should be removed at all costs. So I ask you once more." He pointed the gun at Michael's temple, who closed his eyes. "Where is Martha Jones?"
"I'm here." Martha rose, her heart jumped madly in her chest, but she couldn't stand the idea of trading Michael's life for her own. "Don't hurt him. I surrender."
The commander looked at her, his face remained cold as stone. Michael gazed up her, his eyes were struck with grief but appeared to remain calm as he resigned with his fate.
Martha closed her eyes as the commander pulled the trigger.
"Take her in." He then ordered. "And send a message to the Valiant. Tell them we have capture Martha Jones for the glory and protection of our one true Lord and Master."
Martha was dragged to a barrack in the middle of the slumps. There she was bound by her wrists and interrogated by the commander. They searched through her backpack and retrieved a metal casing. They opened it and found a special gun inside. Four tubes with brightly colored liquid were secured in the casing's lining. One of the men checked the strange weapon and found that the tubes fitted perfectly in the ammunition holder.
"What is this?" The commander barked.
When Martha didn't answer his questions, they started to beat her, first only with their hands and fists, but later when she was so weakened that she could no longer stand and collapsed on the floor, they kicked her till she was bruised and broken, and was barely conscious. Still, she refused to talk.
They dragged her into a dogcage in the back of the barrack, locked it and left her there to rot. For two days Martha waited, slipping in and out of consciousness, while her blood dried under her dirty clothes and her thirst turned the texture of her tongue and throat into that of sandpaper. Her mind kept going back to that moment, when she and Doctor had shared one last secret together. Her heart filled with regret. She had not reached every one, her journey to save mankind had been too short.
She had failed him.
And now, she could only wait for death to take her.
It was on the third morning when she opened her eyes to a pair of expensive, Italian leather shoes that were pacing in front of her cage. She looked up and her heart froze when she recognize that repugnant predatory smile. The Master looked down at her as if he was studying an insignificant insect on the dissection table. He took a handkerchief from his breast pocket and pressed it against his nose.
The commander who had captured Martha stared nervously at his Lord and Master with his knees buckling. It actually surprised her that he wasn't kneeling down and worshiping him like some sort of vengeful God.
"What did you feed this girl? She smells like a used toilet." The Master snorted, breathing through the handkerchief.
"Um what? Nothing, my Lord. We barely kept her alive after we were finished interrogating her."
"Oh, brilliant! And you came up with that decision all by yourself?" He clapped in his hands. "Now tell me Einstein, what good is she to me when she's dead?"
The commander shrunk away like a beaten dog. "But, my Lord. You assured us that she was a threat. A dangerous assassin who resides with the resistance. We were to eliminate her at all costs."
"You don't understand it, do you?" He rolled the piece of fabric into a ball and threw it on the floor. "I don't like to be contradicted. The last time someone contradicted me was…hmm let me see, two hours ago at breakfast. Told me that I ordered a slice of lemon in my tea while I obviously, I didn't." He took out his laserscrewdriver. The commander whimpered and threw himself at his feet.
"I don't even like lemons." The Master muttered, and held the screwdriver in his hand and clicked on it continuously as if he was playing with a ballpoint. The commander stared at it with eyes wide with fear. "Please my Lord! I didn't want to defy you. I swear. I didn't know! I didn't know that you wanted to keep her alive!"
The Master smirked at him. "You know what I did to that man who bought me tea with lemon? Hmm?" The commander shook his head, and kept mumbling his pleads.
The Master stepped on the rolled up handkerchief that he had dropped on the floor. A tiny little pellet, hidden in the folds, cracked open and a cloud of gas escaped into the atmosphere and immediately filled up the room. The commander, who was the closest to the device, took two mouthfuls and started choking. He rolled with his back on the floor, and his eyelids became heavy as he stared up to the ceiling. The Master's face appeared, his trademark grin still on his lips, while the antidote that he had inhaled from the handkerchief kept him safe from the harmful effects of the gas.
"Don't worry, it only makes you sleepy, it won't kill you." The Master rose up slowly. A scream came from outside, and the door to the barrack flew open. A soldier, a very dead soldier, collapsed on the floor with his throat cut open from ear to ear. Behind him, a flock of Toclefanes appeared, their rotating blades were stained crimson with blood. They hovered next to the Master, just in front of the commander whose intoxicated gaze widened in fear.
"Like I said, the gas won't kill you. But my friends certainly will."
He calmly stepped over the commander while the Toclefanes descended upon the paralyzed man, and shredded the flesh from his bones while he screamed in agony. Martha, who was already weakened but was now really feeling the effects of the gas, watched in horror how the commander continued to scream while his head was reduced to a grinning skull with empty sockets. He only stopped when the last tendons were severed, and his jaw dropped on the floor.
The Master opened her cage with his laserscrewdriver. He grabbed her under her arms and dragged her out. She tried to fight him off, but she was so weakened, that he hardly noticed that she was in fact struggling and not just wriggling around without purpose.
"Let..let me go…I won't…I won't tell you anything…" She whispered. She was vaguely aware that outside the barrack, the men were shooting and fighting off the Toclefanes who appeared to have invaded the camp by the orders of their Lord and Master. So everybody was being massacred, she thought, even the soldiers who had carried out the Master's orders. Martha swallowed and held back her tears, she felt sorry for the people she had met in the slave-quarters. She had risked their lives for nothing. The Master crouched down beside her, just like he had done with the commander. Martha believed that she would soon follow him in death.
"Martha Jones." The Master spoke, as if trying out a name that was new to him. "We meet again, I guess."
"Kill me." She said, without emotions. "I won't talk. Just…Let me die…"
The Master shook his head. He picked up the handkerchief from the floor and shook out the shards of the gas pellet.
"You're asking this to the wrong person." He simply stated, and pressed the cloth against Martha's nose, supplying the antidote to her, and saving her life.
She woke up inside a caravan, lying on a makeshift bed comprised of stacked up boxes, old mattresses and straw. Above her dangled two luminescent tubes that emitted a weak blue light. The interior shook violently, making the tubes swing from side to side and every now and then one of the cabinets above her flew open, spilling out its content. There were people all around her, jam-packed together inside. They were talking quietly to each other. Someone laughed. A woman's face appeared before her, it was the woman in the camp who had tried to hide her from the commander. She had a purple bruise on her left jaw that was already beginning to fade. When she noticed that Martha was by consciousness, she quickly turned to the girl sitting next to her.
"She's awake! Get her, quickly." She wiped the sweat off Martha's forehead with a damp cloth. "It's fine my dear, you're safe now. The resistance saved us. They cleared the camp and are taking us to a hiding place in the west."
"No…" Martha rasped. "He was there…I saw him…"
"Who was there?"
"The Master….He killed him….He killed the commander."
"Oh no sweetheart." The woman shook her head, convinced that the poor girl was still delirious. "That wasn't…" She stopped, although liberated, she still could not speak his name without fear. "You were saved by the resistance. They found you in the barrack 4, and executed the commander before they brought you in here with us. Oh don't move, you shouldn't move."
She gently pushed Martha back under the strange light.
"What…" Martha mumbled.
"The lights, they help you heal." The woman brushed a hair from her face. "Those monsters have beaten you so severely, we were afraid that you wouldn't make it." She smiled compassionately. "But luckily they had this." She took Martha's hand. "See, your bruises are fading." Martha stared at her skin that looked like it had been healing for weeks. She moved her fingers and didn't feel the expected crushing pain.
"But…they broke them. They broke my fingers." She gazed up in astonishment. "What kind of device is this?"
The woman was starting to get nervous. "Please, you shouldn't exert yourself."
"But this is not right. Where does the resistance find this kind of advanced alien technology? And the Master…I know I saw him…He was there." She struggled to get up, her suspicion and fear getting the better of her. Another hand pushed her back, but this time it wasn't the woman from the slave labor camp, but Donna Noble.
"Martha calm down. It's all right."
Martha Jones stared into the ginger-haired woman's face. First she didn't recognize her, but then her memories of her last moments on the Valiant came back to her and a sigh of pleasant surprise escaped her lips.
"You are that woman, Donna Noble, who tried to save the Doctor on board of the Valiant."
Donna nodded, thankful that she remembered. "Yes. And you're safe. We got you out."
"She's still confused." The woman from the barracks stated. "She thought she saw the alien antichrist with her in barrack 4. Poor thing."
"But I did, I did see him. Donna I swear, he was there with his army of Toclefanes. He killed the commander, he let them slice him up till there wasn't any flesh left on his bones."
Donna sighed and turned to the other woman. "Could you leave me alone with her for a moment. I might be able to talk some sense into her." She waited till the woman had moved away to the back.
"Please, you have to believe me." Martha pleaded.
Donna came closer to her to make sure that what she was about to tell her wouldn't be overheard by the rest.
"I believe you. And I promise, I'm going to explain everything once we have arrived at the sanctuary. But for now, don't tell the others that you've seen the Master. I don't want them to panic."
Martha gazed back at her in silence.
"You can trust me." Donna said, hoping fiercely that she would.
Martha gazed at the group of men and women who all had been saved from the slave labor camp. The resistance had treated them well, and they've been given food and warm blankets, and were in good health. More importantly, they seemed to entrust their lives in Donna's hands, and looked upon her as their savior. She recalled how Donna had selflessly put herself in danger in order to save them from the Master. And the Doctor, he knew her. She had been his companion, someone who the Doctor trusted. So perhaps, she should do the same.
It took them 6 days to travel from Poland to the north of France, and by that time, Martha had fully recovered from her injuries, and was in such good condition that she could help the men from the resistance push the caravans when they got stuck in the derelict roads. She learned to her amazement that there were only 5 of them; 5 brave men and women who had fought off a heavily armed group of 20 guards of the Saxon regime in order to liberate 200 slave workers. To her it almost seemed impossible that they had succeeded. But every time when her mind became suspicious and rounded up these questions, she was reminded by Donna that she should keep them to herself till they have arrived at their secret hideout. Everything would then be explained to her once they were there. Martha became more impatient with each day that they spend on the road. It was particularly frustrating, since she didn't exactly know what their supposed destination was. But at the 7th day after they had left Krakow, they finally stopped at the riverside of the Seine that was lined by woodlands. That night, the refugees were transferred into small sailing boats, arranged by the resistance. Under the cover of darkness, they sailed down the river, into the direction of the city of Paris. They reached the metropolis in the early hours of the morning, passing the ugly monotonous flats that comprised the vast suburbs, before entering the city's ancient center. Underneath the Austerlitz bridge they were transferred once more into rowing boats that glided more easily underneath the lower bridges. Some of them were given wooden poles to help push the boat forward. A gruesome smell rose from the water, and the deeper they ventured into the city's heart, the more repellent it became. It struck Martha as odd that the 3 meters tall poles could actually reach the bottom of the river, but as the sun started to rise in the east, the first rays of morning light revealed to her the gruesome reason why the Seine had become so shallow. Headless corpses were drifting in the water, limbs and torso so swollen with fluid that the arteries had erupted underneath the blue translucent skin. The whole river was saturated with decay, and the smell of rotting flesh attracted flies that took off in large angry swarms when they approached. Martha averted her eyes. Someone in the boat lurched over the side and vomited.
Donna put a hand on Martha's shoulder. "Hold on. We're almost there."
"What happened here? All these people…I thought the Master had send every one away to the labor camps?"
"Paris was an extinction zone." Donna answered. She too had difficulty looking at the dead, although she had entered the city via this waterway multiple times before. "All the large cities in the west were complete annihilated, the citizens slaughtered, to function as an example, a warning for humanity to not to rise against the Master. Nobody was left alive."
"But then, why are we here?" Martha responded, repulsed and shaken to the core by her story.
"It wasn't my idea, but someone convinced us that the safest place on earth to hide is in one of the monster's barrows, for he would not expect it." Donna sighed. "Until now, the plan had worked." She nodded towards the river shore line that glided past them and seemed so deceptively peaceful. "It's almost unthinkable isn't it? I mean, this is Paris, I always wanted to come visit here. All those famous monuments, and busy shopping streets, the Eiffel tower, and the fancy boulevards. But now, it's just completely deserted. All those people who used to live here…are all gone. It's never going to be the same again."
Melancholy settled over the two women, and they did not speak till the boats drifted under the Petit pont and docked underneath the bridge. The refugees disembarked and stood on shore, taking in the surroundings. They were on Ile de la cite, a small natural island in the middle of the city. In front of them, the famous gothic façade of the Notre Dame rose above the streets. It was hardly damaged by the fires that had raged through the metropolis during the attacks of the Toclefanes. The walls and the roof, thanks to the arched exterior support, were all still standing, although the once beautiful stained glass windows had been destroyed, leaving only the iron-cast skeletal frames as a ghostly reminder of its previous glory. But what struck Martha was the huge contrast between this small island and the rest of the city. Here, large groups of people bustled around the cathedral, carrying goods inside for storage, or were distributing food or attending the wounded who had just arrived by boat. The small public garden in the back of the cathedral had been turned into a vegetable path and men and women were busy making the land suitable to cultivate food. Everywhere she looked, other men and women were hanging up metallic spheres on lampposts and wooden poles.
"Are they what I think they are?" Martha gasped.
Donna nodded to her. "Toclefanes. Don't be alarmed. They're deactivated. We use them to create a deception filter to hide us from the Archangel network. The Master uses the existing satellites and his army of Toclefanes to scan for any non-authorized human activity. We have found a way to corrupt their signals and use the Archangel network itself to shield us from the Master's security system. To him this spot of Paris is as dead as the surrounding neighborhood." Donna ascended the stairs to the cathedral, quickly followed by Martha, who gazed around in astonishment. Whole families were camping inside, some of them hunkered around a warm fire, others were sleeping on makeshift beds, or were eating, or cooking, reading, or talking. The vast cavernous space was filled with human everyday life activity.
"There are like a thousand people in here."
Donna smiled. "Um, more like 6 thousand, 6781, counting you in." And gave her a small wink.
"And you saved all these people." Martha blurted with sincere admiration. "Look at them, they have survived because of you. I can understand now why Doctor asked you to become his companion."
Martha's reaction made Donna blush and feel uneasy. She didn't like to be portrayed as the big leader of the resistance, although most of the people who she had saved considered her as such. She had become, much like Martha, nothing less than a legend, her name whispered in hope to he far corners of the world where the last groups of surviving humans toiled and slaved away in labor camps, hoping that one day, she would liberate them from the Master's tyranny. Even those who worked closest to her didn't know any better than that she was this incredible woman with extraordinary courage and wit who had started it all by organizing the opposition against the Master, and so restoring hope to humanity.
Only Donna herself knew the truth.
"Well" She stammered, and realized that it was time that she came clear with Martha. "I didn't exactly do this alone."
"Well of course not. There are other people in the resistance who helped you out, but still."
"No that's not what I mean." Donna sighed, dreading the other companion's response for what she was about to reveal to her. "Come with me."
She led Martha up to the bell tower, using a narrow spiral staircase that was hidden behind the altar. They climbed all the way to the upper level, where the great bells of the Notre Dame hung from the wooden skeleton of the cathedral. Donna beckoned Martha to follow her as she stepped across the beams. There, half hidden behind the landscape of heavy bells, chimes, and woodwork, was a large wooden plateau that was illuminated by a strange mix of light bulbs fed by bare wires dangling from the ceiling, and candles burning in groups placed on a large workbench that stood in the middle of the wooden island. The bench was littered with screws, coils of wire, and open circuit-boards, and there were drawings of mechanical designs on large translucent sheets of paper and indescribable calculations scribbled on the wooden top. At the back, crates with all kind of defunk electronic parts were stacked up high, next to a chair and a small table, with a plate containing a half eaten sandwich. It looked like a mad scientist's toy shop. Martha hesitantly stepped forward, the floorboards croaking loudly under her feet.
A Toclefane came out of the shadows, and flashed a pair of red luminous eyes at her. Martha was startled and uttered a scream, while Donna rolled her eyes in plain irritation.
"Christ." She grumbled. She stepped forward and to Martha's astonishment, swept the silver sphere out of the air and held it in front like it was a bag of groceries. "Right, you better have a good excuse for doing this." She spoke in a stern voice.
A man appeared, wearing a strange contraption on his face that resembled a pair of glasses with multiple microscope lenses fixed in a row. He responded to Donna with an indifferent shrug and a pleasant grin.
"You told me to mark them when I was finished. Thought I could fix them up with a pair of eyes. Doesn't it make them look cute." The Master teased.
"It makes them look like they have rabies." Donna responded.
"Yeah well." The Master snapped his fingers and the Toclefane flew out of Donna's hands and landed back on the workbench. ""At least I would have a friendly face to talk to once I've cut out a mouth. That would be a welcome change, even if it was foaming around the lips." He glanced at Martha who stood frozen on the spot, and barely dared to take so much as a breath in his presence.
"Ah, and look who came to visit? Isn't that Martha Jones who's currently doing a very bad impression of a third-rate mime artist? What's wrong girly, did my Toclefane rip out your tongue?"
Martha grabbed the first thing that she could reach on the benchtop that looked remotely sharp and pointed it at the Master, who looked back at her with some concern. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."
"Get away from me you monster!" She shrieked, and waved her weapon in front of him, while backing up in the direction of Donna.
The Master followed her. "I'm serious. That's my last jackhammer. You mess that one up, and I have to get through the Toclefanes protection shield the old-fashioned way, with a bloody hammer and a chisel!"
"What did you do to her?" Martha glanced over at Donna, who observed the whole incidence with a somewhat helpless and confused expression on her face. "Did you hypnotize her? Is that why she helped you to trap me here? Speak!"
"The Master sighed, and tried to pry the jackhammer out of Martha's hand, who fought fiercely to keep it, believing that she was fighting for her own dear life. She swung the heavy handle at the Master's head and knocked the pair of goggles from his face. The fragile contraption broke in pieces on the floorboards. "Great." The Master croaked. "Took me ages to find those lenses. Oh you are one annoying little girl." He hissed and pushed her hands down before he struck her forehead against his own. Martha staggered back, the world was swirling before her eyes.
"Hey! Stop that!" Donna pushed the Master away from Martha. "Are you insane? She was just scared." She came to her support and took the drill away from her. "Don't fight him. He's not who you think he is. He's actually on our side."
"What?" Martha's vision had finally managed to regain focus again, but the whole experience had made her believed that she was going mad. "Donna, what's happening here? Why are you with the Master?"
"It's a long story." Donna sighed. She turned to the Master and spoke in her mind to him, arguing that it may be wise for him to leave Martha alone till she had calmed down a bit more. She was still traumatized of everything that had happened to her the last few months, and would need more time to come to terms with this new situation.
"You know." The Master spoke outloud and completely inconsiderate of Martha's delicate state. "It wouldn't hurt her to show a bit of gratitude. I didn't teleport all the way to backward Poland to save her miserable little life only to have her attempt to drill extra holes into my skull with a Black and Decker power drill."
Donna opened her mouth to shut him up, but changed her mind when she saw the look on his face. The Master picked up the pieces of his broken contraption and wandered off to the back of the attic, leaving her to deal with Martha.
High above the continents, at the border of the stratosphere, the great airship Valiant drifted in the sky like a giant bird of prey. The Master was alone in the control room, standing on the bridge and looking outside the window. His mind was constantly occupied, while he listened to the constant drumming that whispered the idea of demons into his head. Beneath his feet, the earth kept turning, and the sun kept providing its warmth and light to the humans. He knew that somewhere down there, his enemies were busying themselves with devising schemes, planning plots, and contemplating treason to bring him down. These Earthlings, these weak and feeble minded biped monkeys, degenerative and egocentric and detestable, they all wanted him dead, for deep in the hearts of this cowardly race, they hated and feared him in equal measures. He knew because he had looked into each and every single one of them, and if it wasn't for the protection of the Archangel network, they would have all rebelled against him already. The thought of this brought a ghost of a smile on his face. Now he finally understood the words of one of the old ancient rules, Caligula, who regretted deeply that the whole of Rome did not have but one neck.
Maybe he should start his holy war with blasting the sun out of the sky.
The door slid open, and Lucy stalked into the room, treading on her toes like a frightened little mouse. The Master didn't turn around to acknowledge her. Lately, she was becoming more and more transparent and increasingly frail. It wouldn't surprise him that one day, he would strike her and she would just evaporate like thin smoke. She scuttled behind him, eyes wide and vacant, with a trace of fear that used to arouse him. Now it evoked only his anger, and made her seem even more useless.
"Harry." She whined. She was always whining, or pleading, or crying. It made his stomach turn. "Harry…love…please. Come in the dining room and eat something."
When he didn't respond, she braced herself and stood in front of the window, forcing him to look at her. "Harry, please. I'm worried about you."
He glanced at her, finally acknowledging her presence. It was all she longed for, and a small smile of gratitude broke through her otherwise saddened face. "I told them to make you your favorite." She tried.
The Master hand slipped up her spine, and seized her thin, birdlike neck. Her mind was like an open book, so very easy to read. Her memories flooded into him, the small open restaurant on the hillside of Capri where he had wined and dined her before their engagement. Him, enjoying a good pasta dish of oil and garlic and peppers. From all the important things that she should consider, she was recalling only this. The childlike qualities of Lucy never seized to amaze him. He let go of her, and pushed her aside.
"I'm not hungry. Now leave, I've got work to do."
Lucy trailed her fingers over the bruised skin on the back of her neck. It wasn't his fault, she told herself, she had such delicate skin. "You can't go on like this." She tried again. "It makes you ill. You don't even know if he was real or not. Maybe…maybe the Doctor played a trick on you, and it was all done with smoke and mirrors like that deception filter. It's not worth scarifying everything for."
"Everything." The Master muttered, and gazed into her eyes. "What everything?" He grabbed her by the neck again, but this time, he pressed down hard and pushed her back. "You mean everything we have together, as a couple? Is that it?" Lucy nodded at him with a glint of misplaced hope in her large begging eyes, but her loyalty to him was only rewarded by a cruel grin. "What we have my dear angelic fruitcake, is of no of importance to me. What you make of it is your own personal problem, so deal with it and stop moaning about it in my face." He shoved her out of the room. "I recommend you go see a shrink, if you can still find one alive that is. Or go sniff some more of that party powder. Should help you get rid of those silly problems, an ounce of the stuff should do the trick."
He stopped shouting at her when he noticed the officer in the hallway, who glanced at the pitiful crying and trembling Lucy before quickly averting his eyes to the floor.
The Master let go of his wife. "Piss off." He whispered to her, and then beckoned the officer to come inside, closing the door behind them.
"My Lord and Master, if this is inconvenient for you I could come back later."
"I was just talking to my lovely wife." He stared angrily at him. "A little domestic dispute. Nothing extraordinary. Besides, doesn't one in the three marriages end in fatal tragedy nowadays." He planted his fists on the windowpane, and leaned forward. "Now, tell me. Do you have a good reason for me to let you live to annoy me yet another day."
The officer turned the color of ashes. Although he knew from his predecessor that serving so close to Master considerably shortened your average lifespan, it was one thing to realize it before you got the job, and a complete other thing when you were actually confronted by the crazy alien who threatened to cut off your head if it failed to come up with the right things to say.
"It's the Trojans, sir." He stuttered, and prayed silently to a God whom he didn't actually believed in. "I think they're finally taking the bait."
The Master's eyes widened. "How many." He asked eagerly. "And where."
"Three are missing, since last night. Their signal was last located in the small town of Clamart, 2 km south of the Paris extinction zone."
"That's almost at the doorstep of unit 451." The Master laughed. "Oh, that is good news. Almost too good to be true. They'll figure out where they came from in no time at all." He swirled around on his heels, and clapped in his hands. The cruel mad grin on his master's face sent shivers down the young officer's spine. The Master pointed at him. "Officer Johnson, wasn't it? No, that's the last fellow. You are, don't tell me…Goodchild! Am I right? I'm sorry, I'm terrible bad with names, especially when I go through you guys like disposable paper towels." He beckoned him to come closer. "Officer Goodchild. Good name. Sounds good, easy for the ear. Now if you could come closer to this window, and place your head against it. Yes. That's it. Now tell me." He gazed in the young officer's eyes, and saw the deepest and darkest kind of fear that was imaginable, corrupting his soul. The Master smiled, and actually sensed what would be a genuine trace of compassion for the young man, for he too knew how it was, and how felt to be consumed by fear.
"Tell me now my good officer Goodchild. Can you hear it?"
"Hear what sir?"
"That sound." The Master whispered, and he closed his eyes and forced the noise of the drums to reside to grant him a moment of peace. One moment without that constant reminder of his own fear for the dark.
"Listen to it officer. It's the sound of a trap, slowly closing, and crushing the skull of our tiny little mouse who tried to escape."
Next time: The resistance is lured into a trap when the revived Master learns about unit 451. Will they be able to find out in time and escape capture?